Property managers of multi-family units are operating in an increasingly competitive market, one with a new generation of tech-savvy renters and buyers that presents a new range of demands.
We’ve looked at 5 of the main challenges facing property managers catering to Millennial and Gen Z prospective residents and how technological solutions can help to ensure that they stand out from their competitors and keep occupancy rates high.
1. Showing and leasing properties
Arranging and hosting property viewings for prospective tenants often is the responsibility of property managers and can be time-consuming. The COVID pandemic put restrictions on travel and in-person contact and we saw the emergence of a new phenomenon — fully remote leasing.
Many property managers needed to create virtual tours of the homes they manage, incorporating images, video, and even virtual reality environments — allowing interested parties to tour the property remotely. This was complemented by web or app-based systems to exchange and sign contracts remotely, allowing new tenants to complete a lease or sale without having set foot in the building.
Even as restrictions have been lifted, remote viewings remain popular, especially Millennial and Gen Z demographics, who are a large portion of today’s prospective buyers or tenants. . So property managers who offer remote viewing and leasing as an option get the best of both worlds — reducing demands on their time, while also making their MFU more attractive to prospective residents.
2. Smart control systems
Smart door and area access control systems make it easy to manage not only resident access but additional as well as temporary access for maintenance staff, tradespeople, and visiting relatives or friends.
Smart package lockers mean that managers no longer have to take responsibility for storing and handing over deliveries. Residents can collect them when convenient, 24/7.
Smart home systems allow residents to control heating and lighting from an app but can also help keep building energy efficiency cost down by powering these systems off when not in use.
As seen with remote leasing, these features are no longer viewed as a luxury add-on by today’s tech-savvy tenants, but as an expected necessity. To ensure the desirability of their properties, managers need to ensure that they include these types of smart control services tailored to residents’ needs as standard.
3. Owner and tenant retention
As with any business, it’s easier and cheaper to retain existing customers rather than seeking and cultivating new ones. This holds true for property managers. Tenant and owner retention should be a critical part of your strategy. It’s vital to stay ahead of the market in introducing the smart features and services that today’s consumers expect and more often than not demand in order to reduce churn.
Technology plays a big role, especially with Millennial and Gen Z owners or tenants who expect a range of web-based services as standard. From virtual doorman or concierge services, to rent management apps that issue payment reminders, to tech-enabled gym and fitness equipment, to smart home amenities like video doorbells and smart locks that are connected to their mobile devices—modern tenants expect modern technology to make their life easier.
Property managers who adopt and maintain these types of services, and respond quickly to new tenant and owner demands as they emerge are best placed to maximise the duration of their leases and reduce the sales, marketing, and management costs associated with high resident turnover.
Maintaining MFU common areas and grounds can come with significant overheads for property managers. Fortunately, there are a number of tech solutions available on the market which can make maintenance easier or even automate it entirely—which benefits both managers and residents.
Smartphone apps that allow residents to report maintenance issues as they discover them are increasingly popular and allow managers to prioritise outstanding tasks by severity while ensuring that residents feel their concerns are being heard. IoT-connected devices such as heaters, lights, or smart locks can even self-report if they require maintenance, ensuring that any problems are addressed quickly, which can prevent issues from escalating and incurring higher costs later. And automated devices such as cleaning or lawn mowing robots can automate daily tasks, reducing staffing costs.
5. Reporting and Auditing
Managers of multi-family units face increasing expectations to provide detailed reporting and auditing on their activities that are often done manually and can represent a significant amount of work. However, the technologies discussed can make it much easier to collect useful data about tenants and properties and to generate clear and detailed reports on demand.
Property management software can be integrated with systems such as smart access control systems, maintenance apps, and property listing tools to provide one-click access to logs and reports about each aspect of how the MFU is run.
Automating the process of creating and distributing property management reports saves significant time, and eliminates the risk of human error in compiling the information. Reports can be scheduled ahead of time to be automatically sent out via email on a recurring basis, including visuals such as pie charts and graphs to give recipients an at-a-glance understanding of the data.
In summary, it’s clear that the challenges facing MFU property managers today require modern solutions — harnessing the opportunities provided by technology to increase efficiency, control costs, and meet the needs of a new generation of renters and buyers.